Heal brings back doctor home visits – with a twist



Remember the old days when doctors used to come to you? A new startup, Heal, is trying to bring back that concept.

In a way, Heal’s business model combines the traditional interaction of a doctor home visit with the modern convenience of technology.

The idea started when Dr. Renee Dua, MD (Heal’s Founder and Chief Medical Officer) took her seven-month-old boy to the emergency room. It took eight hours to figure out that her son was fine. “On the way home, I told my husband ‘why can’t we build an app for house calls?’  And, so we did,” Dr. Dua told Opportunity Lives.

The app functions similarly to Uber. Users simply pull out their smartphones, request a doctor to their location, and a fully-certified physician and assistant will arrive within the hour. Heal charges a flat $99 fee for each house visit – a bit more than the average co-pay, but well worth it for most families because there is no hassle with insurance, waiting rooms, or travel times.

The novel idea will take some getting used to, but so far it has worked well in Los Angeles, the company’s first market. Hundreds of customers have used the service so far, and Heal just launched in San Francisco as well. By the end of the year, Dr. Dua wants to be in 15 metropolitan cities across the country, including Washington, DC.

There is already competition in New York, where a similar company – Pager – was started by a former Uber engineer. But Dr. Dua maintains that Heal has a competitive edge. Heal, for example, charges the flat $99 fee for each visit, whereas Pager has several price points (a normal urgent care visit costs $200, though you can be “treated over the phone” for $25). Additionally, Heal promises a doctor within an hour, while Pager’s website says that a doctor will be at your location within two hours.

Dr. Dua said the idea has been quickly gaining steam, but it’s not an easy process to start a company. “We have to carefully manage torrid growth while not losing sight of quality and customer service. All while raising money and adding key people to the team.”
Another challenge is making sure people trust the quality of care they’re receiving. Fortunately, Dr. Dua is board certified in nephrology, hypertension and internal medicine and served as Chief of Medicine at Valley Presbyterian and Simi Valley Hospitals. Heal has already brought more than 30 physicians on board.
Dr. Dua has three tips for other entrepreneurs striving to succeed. “First, have a big idea. Second, know how to raise money.” (Heal has already raised several million from angel investors.) “Third, focus on your customer – don’t just meet their expectations, transform their desires,” she said.